Here are some highlights from the meeting.

– As you’re developing your business, if your technological capabilities aren’t fully developed yet,

  1. Focus on great customer service (“Get them a pizza”). Be attentive, spend face-to-face time with them.
  2. Do the technical stuff yourself (you or someone in your company). Good customer service and “faking it” operations-wise go a log way while you’re waiting to build up the funds to hire developers for software, websites, etc.

– If you have employees in whom you see potential to do more creative work and experiment with ideas that might really grow the business and/or make them more invested in it, one attendee suggested giving them a “week off” per quarter to try their own thing and develop and test ideas.

– If there is data/IT/software-related legwork that needs to be done, if you know how to do it but need to focus on other things, then — if you’re able to TRAIN someone — get an intern, rather than hiring a professional developer. It’s cheaper, which is useful if you’re a startup and need to be economical.

– One attendee had the problem of hiring developers who ended up taking longer and billing more than they had planned, and developing code that had LOTS of bugs. Many at the table agreed that it was important to have developers — whether offshore or local — that are committed to having something for you to look at and discussing things with you (or some kind of point person in your company) regularly– several times a week, if not every day. If they’re not willing to do that, you shouldn’t hire them, because you have no recourse later on if they take longer, bill more, or develop crappy software.

– If you’re updating your website or changing platforms, test the prototype on a small segment of your customers first. Just pick a few customers and tell them you have a new website and give them the URL. See how they like it and tweak it, before rolling it out as the official site.